Miller, Carolyn. The Captivating Lady Charlotte. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-0-8254-4451-7. $14.99 USD.
Carolyn Miller’s second book, while not as great as the first, is still a wonderful read in offering flawed, but intriguing characters. , in taking two characters who aren’t that likable on the surface and making you sympathize with them.
In the vein of Austen’s Marianne Dashwood, Charlotte is an immature heroine at the beginning who is absorbed only in what she wants, and is blind to the hero’s good qualities because of her fascination with someone else. But the novel shows her come of age, growing out of her youthful infatuation with a highly unsuitable man and growing to respect and love the Duke of Hartington.
William has his own issues, and there are definitely moments when he doesn’t come off as that sympathetic either, but he is a great match for Charlotte. And while occasionally he can seem a bit self-righteous (not to mention the way this book incorporates the Big Misunderstanding), I did enjoy him as a character. And there is a lovely conversation at one point about his interesting in doing charity with the less fortunate, because it’s the right thing to do as a good Christian, that when juxtaposed with the hedonistic behaviors of the ton, this idea resonates even today.
One thing that did bug me was the constant references to his age, when he is mentioned as being at most thirty years old. I know it was a different time, that a decade older can seem like a lot for a woman of around eighteen or nineteen, and that this was meant to draw comparisons to Marianne’s disparaging of Colonel Brandon, which also seems illogical. While life expectancy in those times wasn’t as long as it is today, considering that men married a bit later than women, and widowers were encouraged to marry again if their wife died, especially if they did not yet have an heir (as is addressed in the book), it did feel a bit odd to have the age gap constantly brought up.
On the topic of children, it is a refreshing that we get to see the realities that women faced, both then and now, when it came to the struggle to have children. So many romances end on a happy note, and if it’s a series, a couple from an earlier book will turn up wrapped in marital and parental bliss. To see an author depict a couple dealing with hardship and having to work through it is incredibly inspirational.